This week was another busy week for me personally as academic team season kicked off with a tournament over in Pecatonica. In baseball, negotiations also started to take place between MLB and the Players’ Association, but don’t get too excited for the lock out to end anytime soon even though most teams began selling spring training tickets this past week.

IFA Recap

The big news of this week was yesterday’s international free-agent signing day. The Cubs were able to ink top prospects Alexis Hernandez, Adan Sanchez, and Jefferson Rojas. In total, the Cubs signed 12 players:

Adan Sanchez, C/3B, Panama
Alexis Hernandez, SS, Dominican Republic
Jefferson Rojas, SS, Dominican Republic
Josefrailyn Alcantata, OF, Dominican Republic
Carlos Altuve, C, Venezuela
Josias Ramirez, OF, Dominican Republic
Moises Febrillet, SS, Dominican Republic
Albertina Belliard, OF, Dominican Republic
Yidel Diaz, C, Dominican Republic

Freylin Silverio, RHP, Dominican Republic
Sandy Sanchez, SS, Dominican Republic
Darlin De Leon, SS, Dominican Republic

Check out yesterday’s live coverage of the day. We have some new video of guys we did not know much about until yesterday!

We haven’t seen anything close to a scouting report on most of these kids but I really like the video I saw and tweeted out yesterday. Belliard’s swing looked smooth as did Rojas’, Febrillet’s, Ramirez’s, Sandy Sanchez, and Alcantara’s. I have not found much yet on Diaz, or de Leon.

The Cubs have signed only one pitcher on the day. That is not surprising. Not. At. All. When it comes to pitchers in the IFA market, the Cubs have been trending towards older kids who might be called “late bloomers” who are more physically mature and have filled out a bit. Most of those kids sign later in the signing season.

It looks like I will be updating some depth charts today!

Triantos and Wicks Love

In other news, it was cool to see that Baseball America sort of redid the draft from last year. The Cubs wound up with two players being taken in the top 20 in James Triantos at number 10 and Jordan Wicks at number 18. It’s been cool to see the evolution of Triantos in such a short period of time this winter. The hype machine is taking on a little bit of a different level with him. 

When the hype machine does that, I wonder how much of that fanfare is really going to impact the player. We saw Jose Albertos get a lot of hype fairly quickly and then he sort of crashed and burned and he has been working to rebuild himself the past two seasons while battling through injuries. Aramis Ademan is another player who was highly thought of and did not even make it out of high A as he retired last summer at the ripe old age of 22..

However, with Triantos, the way the ball explodes off his bat is a pretty good hint that something might be special there. Just how special, we’re going to have to wait to find out.

Name Change: Goodbye Tennessee, Hello Knoxville!

In a couple of years, the Tennessee Smokies will be moving to new digs in downtown Knoxville. And with that move will come a name change back to the Knoxville Smokies. The team used that name from 1925-1967 and 1993-1999. They took the Tennessee name in 2000 with the move to Sevierville. The logo you see in the tweet below is the old one from the 1990s.

Tweet of the Week

It was cool to see that the Myrtle Beach Pelicans “officially” re-signed broadcaster Sam Weiderhaft to a contract for next year. A lot of us on Cubs Twitter really came to love Sam’s enthusiasm and talent for calling the Pelicans’ games last year. He was just as excited about the Cubs’ young prospects at Myrtle Beach as we were. Congrats to Sam!

Yohendrick is Healing

Here is a video of Yohendrick Pinango squeezing a ball with his left wrist (the video is inverted) which shows a cast-less wrist with only some tape. That’s good news for him starting the season on time!

Cancer Journeys

It was a heartwarming this week to see the amount of support that Tigers prospect writer Emily Waldon received from the baseball community when she announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As someone who is just about finished going through that with my wife, it was nice to see so many people rally around and with her. If I could tell her anything it would be that it is going to be amazing what her care team is going to be able to do to help her on her journey.

My wife, Anne, has just eight radiation treatments left and her cancer journey will be at an end on January 26. Anne was declared to cancer free in mid-December but she went ahead with radiation as it will give her the best chance for long-term survival.

Pic of the Week

When it was announced this week that Jon Lester was retiring, it was cool to see the outpouring of love amongst Cubs fans. What was even cooler to was see to that so many national media outlets used a picture of him in a Cubs’ jersey.

Jam of the Week – Rush

This week also marked the anniversary of the death of Rush drummer Neil Peart. I first started listening to Rush in high school in the late 70s with the “Permanent Waves” album and they have been a favorite of mine ever since. I feel like I grew up as an adult and Rush was the soundtrack of my adult life for most of the 80s, 90s, and then again in the 2000s, especially when I was biking 15 miles a day in the summer. In fact, I thanked Getty, Alex, and Neil in my dissertation.

Here is the classic instrumental jam “La Villa Strangiato” off the Hemispheres album.